The Spanish civil war of 1936-39 started with General Franco's coup against the democratically elected Republican government of Manuel Azaña, on July 17th 1936. Franco issued a manifesto announcing the military rebellion, which was broadcast from the Canary Islands. He ceased Morocco and took the full control of the protectorate and then landed in Spain,marching with his army toward Madrid. The cabinet resigned on the 18th and Borrios, a right wing republican, was made prime minister.
The Second Republic of Spain, that had came to power in 1931, was made up primarily of leftists and centrists. The king Alfonso XIII, a constitutional monarch, was forced to abdicate. Those victorious at the election then declared Spain a republic and monarchy was abolished. They enacted reforms to breakup the feudal system, and attempted to reduce the size of the military. As well, the republicans introduced a number of acts against the catholic church. State stopped paying priests' salaries, demanding that they should be paid by Roman Catholic Church’s funds. These reforms angered many privileged groups including the military, industrialists, land owners and the Roman Catholic clergy. They were supported by right wing countries in Europe that were fearful of Stalin’s Russia, in particular Italian fascists under Mussolini, and Nazi Germany after Hitler came to power in January 1933. The 1930’s Depression, weakened the government position further. Two powerful left wing political parties, the anarchists and syndicalists (powerful trade union groups), criticized Azana’s government for not paying attention to the plight of the unemployed workers and poor farmers who were devastated by the impact of the depression, and the extreme left organised strikes and riots in an effort to destabilize his government. Azana resigned as prime minister and elections were called for November 1933, in which the Nationalist won a majority of seats. The new government immediately nullified all the reforms.
A period of instability, strikes and riots ensued, and as result a general election was called for February 1936, in which Azana's Popular Front won and once again he became prime minister. However, the ongoing instability intensified. Franco's coup against Azana made some headway in parts of the country but in Catalonia, and especially Barcelona, the CNT (Anarcho-Syndicalist union) resisted fiercely. They declared a general strike and took to the streets looking for arms which the government refused to give them. In the end they stormed the barracks, and took what they needed. The Republicans were supported by the European left and the Soviet Union, while the Nationalists were armed and equipped by the Fascist governments of Germany and Italy.
The Spanish Civil War would prove not only both tragic and bloody, but also as David Sanders writes:
..retained an evocative quality which the other crises preceding World War II lack. Although its concrete result was a fascist triumph, it also offered international communism its greatest political opportunity since the Soviet revolution by converting the concept of a united front against fascism from a topic for discussion to battlefield reality. And, long before the surrender of of Madrid, it had inspired an impressive literature, even though party line reportage must be entered into the canon with Man's Hope and For Whom the Bell Tolls.Studying the amazing works of the graphic artists who dealt with the Spanish civil war, and here we can see the works of artists both, the Nationalist and the Republican, sides, it would be very difficult to disagree with Hemingway's profound judgement.
The inescapable relationship between politics and writing in this war is, of course, the obscuring factor in judging the real worth of its literature . This problem of how far communist objectives came to be shared by noncommunist writers may be seen most clearly in the relevant works of Ernest Hemingway. No other writer, so involved , was more provably noncommunist than the author of Green Hills of Africa, yet none was to call more urgently for militant struggle against fascists. Twenty years later, Hemingway, of all American writers dealing with the struggle, has been most consistently faithful to his early convictions."
Spanish Falangists Posters;
|To speak of the Falange is to name Spain|
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